North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guided the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in 2017. (Reuters)
South Korean spy agencies fear North Korea may fire an “array of ballistic missiles” before the year’s end in a bid to show its strength and deter the United States and its allies from further interference in Pyongyang’s nuke and missile programs.
South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee was briefed by Seoul’s National Intelligence Service in a closed door meeting Monday where new intelligence on North Korea was discussed, Reuters reported.
North Korea launched its last missile in early September, with the ICBM flying over Japan.
“The agency is closely following the developments because there is a possibility that North Korea could fire an array of ballistic missiles this year under the name of a satellite launch and peaceful development of space, but in fact to ratchet up its threats against the United States,” lawmakers told reporters.
There were no signs that Kim Jong Un planned to carry out a nuclear test since North Korea’s last one on Sept. 3, the agency said, though it stressed it “is possible any time.”
“But we forecast that depending upon North Korean leader Kim’s determination, a nuclear test is possible any time,” the agency said, according to Yonhap News Agency.
Despite reports that the Punggye-ri test site, where North Korea conducts its nuclear tests, is on the verge of collapsing, at least one tunnel is available and prepped for a nuke test.
Another tunnel is under construction and one had been left unattended, Yonhap reported.